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What is Funk as a Style of Dance?

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By Sorina Fant / Edited by Samantha Bellerose, B.Ed, Dip.Dance (Performing Arts)

Funk was created in the 1970s in California. It is a culture, and a movement, with signature music and dance. The funk sound is the perfect fusion of several genres including jazz, hip hop, and disco. It’s also a type of dance that is used to describe many street dance styles from this era including tutting, the robot, popping, and locking all of which you can read more about in our dance styles guide here.

Funk is the by-product of a combination of soul music, jazz, and rhythm & blues. In this music genre, the rhythms of the song are stressed and the beat is more exaggerated with a syncopation bassline and amazing drumming. 

Funk music originated within African American communities in the United States. Some of the most popular funk musicians include James Brown, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, Earth, Wind, and Fire, Sly and the Family Stone, Ohio Players, and Curtis Mayfield. Funk music continued to grow in popularity throughout the 1970s and 1980s and evolved to help create the foundation for hip hop music and hip hop culture. 

Many of the dance movements that are seen in funk complement the irresistible beats and rhythms in the music. The popular television show, Soul Train, first aired in October of 1971. Soul Train, created by Don Cornelius, supported and showcased many African American musicians, singers, and dancers. This television program helped define the funk era and was an amazing platform for the display of funk music and dance. 

A funk dance class today would have an amazing playlist of hit songs from the 1970s. Dancers would move to many jazz inspired movements as well as trendy dance techniques from the funk era including popping, locking and various moves that are popular within hip hop dance.

This page is just one of hundreds of definitions of the many styles and genres of dance. This library is being continually added to by the writers and contributors of Dance Parent 101!